Zee and Co (also known as X Y and Zee and Zee and Company) is a 1972 British drama film directed by Brian G. Hutton and starring Elizabeth Taylor, Michael Caine, and Susannah York. Released by Columbia Pictures, it was based upon a novel by Edna O'Brien. The screenplay concerns a middle-aged, bickering couple whose marriage is near its end, and the woman who comes between them.
|Zee and Co.|
|Directed by||Brian G. Hutton|
|Written by||Edna O'Brien|
|Produced by||Elliot Kastner|
Alan Ladd, Jr.
|Edited by||Jim Clark|
|Music by||Stanley Myers|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
Zee Blakely is a loud, coarse, 40-something socialite, whose marriage to her architect husband Robert is on the rocks as witnessed by their frequent verbal sparring matches. Sick of Zee's antics, Robert is drawn to quiet boutique owner Stella who is the complete antithesis to Zee in terms of personality.
Feeling bored and rejected, Zee attempts several methods to regain Robert's sympathy, such as attempting suicide, but these do not work. Zee discovers that Stella had a lesbian affair in the past, and uses this against both her and Robert and then dares him to partake in a love triangle with Stella.
Zee and Co. was shot at Shepperton Studios and on location in London. The film's sets were designed by the art director Peter Mullins. Caine claimed decades later that Elizabeth Taylor was paid ten times more than he was for the film.
The theme song "Going in Circles" was covered by Three Dog Night, appearing as the b-side to the single "The Family of Man" as well as on their album Seven Separate Fools, both released in 1972.
Critical opinions of the film were varied. Roger Ebert wrote that while the movie is "no masterpiece" it still satisfies audiences as it "unzips along at a nice, vulgar clip". He said that Elizabeth Taylor is the film's main attraction, but the emphasis upon her detracts somewhat from a fuller representation of the love triangle in the film. Steven Scheuer praised the film for its "intelligent dialogue" and as a "change of pace" for its director. Michael McWilliams cited Taylor's work as "her greatest movie performance" and called the film "outrageously funny" (McWilliams, 1987: 32).
Other critics were less sympathetic. New York Magazine wrote: "The characters played by Elizabeth Taylor, Michael Caine and Susannah York are uniformly repulsive; the style completely vulgar; the dialogue moronic, and the situations simply beyond belief in this triangular affair." Leonard Maltin wrote the film was "contrived [and] often perverse," with the Elizabeth Taylor/Susannah York love scene ranking "high in the annals of poor taste," (Maltin, 1990: 1386). Clive Hirschhorn felt the film was sabotaged by the director's "indulgent" take on it, thereby skewing Edna O'Brien's screenplay to its detriment (Hirshhorn, 1989: 298). Mick Martin offered a very brief review of the film, writing that it was a "pointless tale of sexual relationships", (Martin and Porter, 1996: p. 1213).
A Region 1 DVD-R was released by Sony Pictures on 17 December 2010.
- Hirschhorn, Clive (1990). The Columbia story (1 ed.). New York: Crown. ISBN 978-0517575581.
- Maltin, Leonard, ed. (1991). Leonard Maltin's movie and video guide (1992 ed.). New York, N.Y.: Signet. ISBN 978-0452266919.
- Martin, Mick; Porter, Marsha (1996). Bang, Derrick (ed.). Video movie guide, 1997. New York: Ballantine Books. ISBN 978-0345406439.
- McWilliams, Michael (1987). TV sirens : a tantalizing look at prime time's fabulous females. New York, NY: Putnam. ISBN 978-0399512926.
- Variety film review; 26 January 1972, page 16.
- Heymann, C. David (2011). Liz: An Intimate Biography of Elizabeth Taylor. Atria Books. p. 316.
- "Michael Caine rubbishes Hollywood gender pay gap: 'Elizabeth Taylor got 10 times what I did'". The Telegraph. 17 June 2016. Retrieved 10 January 2022.
- Ebert, Roger (8 March 1972). "X, Y and Zee". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 26 August 2014.
- Scheuer, Steven (1990). Movies on TV and Videocassette. Bamtam Books, New York. p. 1211.
- "New York Magazine 6 Mar 1972". New York Magazine. 6 March 1972. p. 12.
- Remastered Region 1 DVD released, sonypictures.com; retrieved 26 August 2014.